Ex-Santa Rosa priest to face rape charge
By Greg Cahill
A FORMER SANTA ROSA priest surrendered to local court officials on Wednesday to face charges that he raped a 14-year-old girl under his care. Donald Wren Kimball, 56, is charged with a four-count felony complaint alleging that in 1977 the ex-Resurrection Parish priest raped and committed lewd and lascivious acts on an unidentified girl while he worked as a youth group leader.
It is further alleged that Kimball sexually assaulted a second teenage girl in 1981, and that he may have abused as many as 11 boys and girls over several decades. In a published statement, Deputy District Attorney Gary Medvigy said, “There is an endless number of people [Kimball] is alleged to have touched.”
On Wednesday, Kimball returned from a vacation and surrendered to a Sonoma County judge. His attorney, Chris Andrian, says Kimball has denied all wrongdoing and will fight the charges. If he is convicted, Kimball could serve up to 15 years and would become the second Santa Rosa priest sent to prison in recent years for sexual misconduct.
The case is the latest sex scandal to rock the Diocese of Santa Rosa. Last summer, Bishop Patrick Ziemann resigned when it was revealed that he had a relationship with the Rev. Jorge Hume Salas. Ziemann has maintained that the relationship was consensual; Salas has alleged that Ziemann pressured him into the relationship. On Monday, Ziemann invoked his constitutional right against self-discrimination when he refused to testify during a scheduled weeklong deposition in San Francisco for the sexual coercion lawsuit filed by Salas.
The diocese has been rocked by a $16 million fiscal crisis as well, stemming in part from efforts by diocese officials to pay off several million dollars in settlements brought in sexual misconduct cases.
The newly filed felony charges against Kimball resulted from evidence submitted in a civil suit in which Kimball is alleged to have molested two girls and two boys during the ’70s and ’80s. In that case, a tentative $1.6 million settlement has been reached between the plaintiffs and the diocese.
The California Supreme Court has ruled that California law can eliminate the statute of limitations for certain sex offenses, allowing district attorneys to file charges in cases if there is independent corroboration.
Turnabout Is Fair Play
JUDGE-ELECT Elliot Daum, who defeated incumbent Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Patricia Gray in a bitter election race, has filed a complaint with state election officials charging that Gray violated judicial ethics with a controversial “Cop Killer” campaign mailer.
The campaign literature–mailed just days before the March 7 election–characterized Daum, a respected public defender, as caring more about the rights of violent criminals than about the rights of victims.
The mailer led four judges who had endorsed Gray to distance themselves from her campaign.
Daum filed the complaint with the state Commission on Judicial Performance. Gray, who won her position on the bench in 1995, has nine months left in her term. The commission has the authority to remove, censure, or admonish a sitting judge.
Ironically, on election night, Daum had this to say about Gray when asked to comment on allegations that he had run a negative campaign: “When you go up against an incumbent, you have to bring out negative things–you can’t say, ‘Hey, I’m a good guy, vote for me.’ I got into this race because I was very unhappy with our incumbent. This is the way you have to run a campaign. It would be ridiculous to do it otherwise.”
Editorial assistant Shelley Lawrence contributed to this article.
From the March 30-April 5, 2000 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.
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